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All Songs Considered

Just as Coachella Music and Arts Festival sets the bar for every other American music festival of the summer, Beyoncé recurringly sets the bar for every other performer.

A year after postponing her headlining set in 2017 due to pregnancy, Beyoncé treated her return to the stage like a family reunion, homecoming pep rally and a Beyhive-unifying rebel yell before heading into battle.

To start off her two-hour show, Queen Bey evoked the spirit of another member of black royalty, Egyptian Queen Nefertiti, appearing in a custom Balmain gold-crusted cape and headdress.

A quick scan of the headlines reveals, for those who'd let it slip their minds, that the world is essentially an exploding toilet of governmental crisis and global conflict. A quick scan of tomorrow's headlines will likely reveal, for those who dare anticipate them, an entirely new set of threats and catastrophes. The old ones won't have resolved themselves, mind you; they'll merely have been joined by a fresh set of nauseating calamities, each landing in our lives with the shudder-inducing plop of a full diaper dropped off a tall building.

NPR Music's Stephen Thompson and Ann Powers join host Robin Hilton for a quick run-through some of the most essential new albums out on April 13, starting with the Korean surf-rock band Say Sue Me and their wistful and gritty album Where We Were Together.

The most heart-wrenching country songs employ metaphor like a splash of cold water. They wake you up with a shock; blinking, you see the world just a little bit differently.

Stephanie Richards' trumpet sounds like deep space wrapped around your head, a flood in the endless void.

"Stolen Moments," the latest single from nascent Brooklyn poly-instrumentalist and singer Cautious Clay (neé Josh Karpeh), is a stunning, hushed lament that plays out like a lovers' quarrel about commitment (or lack thereof) that's still reeling long after the last words have been thrown.

Turnstile's music swirled just as much as it pounded, turning some of the stranger, studio-driven moments of its recent album Time & Space into a live-action stage match. As the band explored every inch of the worn hardwood at All Souls Unitarian Church in Northwest Washington, D.C., stirring up heart rates and exalting the moment, one body would jump from the stage and be immediately replaced by another, all in constant motion.

It would be easy to call Peach Kelli Pop's bright and frenetic music bubblegum or twee, but it would also be wrong. To refer to a song like "Hello Kitty Knife" this way removes the agency and intention that makes it so earnest. The first single off the band's upcoming fourth album Gentle Leader is at once a more maturely written song than previous work and a return to childhood.

There is no one universe for Ben LaMar Gay, he just sonic booms from one sound to another. His solo debut, Downtown Castles Can Never Block the Sun, is really a patch-work of seven albums, recorded over seven years but never released. It moves from fuzz-caked weirdo-psych to mutant synth-funk to giddy electronics to progressive jazz at a seamless, whiplash-free warp speed.

All Songs Considered's Robin Hilton chats with NPR Music's Lars Gotrich, Tom Huizenga, Marissa Lorusso, Sidney Madden and Ann Powers about some of the best new albums dropping on Apr. 6, from the scorching punk of Norway's Dark Times to the mesmerizing cello drones of Clarice Jensen, rap phenom Cardi B, dance pop singer Kylie Minogue's country turn and much more.

Featured Albums

  • Dark Times: Tell Me What I Need
  • Christina Vantzou: No. 4
  • Cardi B: Invasion of Privacy

Just about everyone at NPR Music's favorite discovery from SXSW this year was Brittney Parks, who records as Sudan Archives.

Today, the singer, violinist and electronic musician has a new song, "Nont For Sale," a title inspired by a sign she saw on a Ghana hillside that read: "THIS LAND IS NONT FOR SALE." It comes to us from her new EP, Sink, due at the end of May.

For Tunde Olaniran, art is about big ambitions, bigger ideas and the relentless pursuit of joy and comfort within his own skin. The Flint, Mich., native's bold and wildly dynamic 2015 debut Transgressor announced him as a playful multi-hyphenate provocateur who sings, raps, writes and choreographs from a vast well of creativity.

The fruit borne from Cate Le Bon and White Fence's Tim Presley in the last few years have been strange and delightful hybrids — like little pluots of avant-pop and post-punk. Hermits on Holiday, their 2015 debut album together as Drinks, directly influenced Le Bon's 2016 album Crab Day and takes an adventurous left-turn that has nooks and crannies I'm still discovering.

On Let's Make Love, Brazilian Girls' first record in a decade, "Karaköy" stands out for its timelessness and simplicity. It's a walk-skip along the ancient streets of its namesake neighborhood in Istanbul, with Sabina Sciubba's rich, gymnastic and apparently effortless voice left, right and center stage. When its chorus arrives, soft-washed trumpets in tow, Sciubba's volume rises to overpower them.

There is a ceiling-gazing quality to Juliana Daugherty's songs — that's not an attempt at coining a new, fake genre, but a functional image. Light is the singer's first solo album after playing around the Charlottesville, Va. folk scene. Having spent a little time with Light, I just want to curl up in a circle of pillows and stare upwards at eggshell paint that could so easily be cracked by the quiet and contemplative poetry Daugherty sings with gentle, but aching lilt.

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